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The Ultimate Guide To Vancouver Island

Updated: May 24

The photos don’t do this West Coast gem justice. Located just off Canada’s Pacific Coast, it is the largest island on the western side of the Americas.


Driving around Vancouver Island and seeing the rugged beauty is, for lack of a better word, epic. Read on for the ultimate guide to Vancouver Island and the places you need to add to your itinerary when you’re planning your road trip around the island:

Girls looking out over Victoria

Stop 1: Nanaimo

On the Eastern side of the island is Nanaimo, the third oldest city in British Columbia. The Old Town has revitalized heritage buildings, cute cafes and beautiful boutique shops. And you can’t visit here without trying a Nanaimo Bar, a dessert created here. It consists of three layers: the bottom is a combination of crushed coconut, walnuts, graham cracker crumbs and cocoa powder, the middle is a custard buttercream and the top is a dark chocolate ganache. Besides the classic bar, you can also experience creative interpretations of the flavours through cocktails, coffee and ice cream.

close up of Nanaimo bar

Stop 2: Tofino

The surf capital of Canada and Women’s Surf Capital of the world! The ocean is a big part of the culture in Tofino, so naturally there’s lots to do in the water. The other stellar aspect of Tofino is that part of the Pacific Rim National Park goes through it. The park has some incredible trails leading through rainforest, white sandy beaches and wildlife like cougars and black bears. The perfect weekend in Tofino means: a morning surf, afternoon hike, evening stroll, dinner in the small downtown, and ending it off with a bonfire on the beach.

ocean in Tofino

Stop 3: Victoria

Victoria is on miles of oceanfront, is the hub of the island and offers mild weather all year round. Here, you’ll have to stop and smell the roses at the internationally known Butchart Gardens. It all started with one woman’s vision and passion – Jennie Butchart started building a grand garden over 100 years ago, and it has now become a spectacular garden to visit. You’ll also want to try a beer at one of the many unique craft breweries around the city (serving beers brewed somewhere on the island), walk along the stunning Inner Harbour, and eat at one of the locally owned restaurants that take pride in cooking innovative meals using local ingredients.

flowers at the garden in Victoria

All of the in between! (places along the way)

Most of the island is wild, with few roads and various terrains from rugged fjords to temperate rainforests to mountainous terrain. Driving around the island and enjoying the views passing by outside your window is in itself, an experience to be had.


Any time of the year, Vancouver Island will be a laidback yet adventurous experience that won’t disappoint.

girls walking in the garden

rainforest on the island


Ready to take on the Island? Let's plan your adventure.

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